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Monte Pisano in Toscana / Area  / Brunelleschi’s Fortress in Vicopisano, example of an impregnable masterpiece

Brunelleschi’s Fortress in Vicopisano, example of an impregnable masterpiece

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There is a small hamlet at the foothill of Monte Pisano, rich in history and tradition: we’re talking about Vicopisano, about 20 minutes from Pisa. You can reach this hamlet following the Vicarese provincial road, from where an impressive tower can be seen in the distance.

Photo Credits: gosia_siudzinska

This is Brunelleschi’s Fortress, commissioned to the architect Filippo Brunelleschi, when, after a eight-month siege, the hamlet capitulated and from Pisa passed under Florence.

This was an important victory for Florence and they had to fortify this position: Vicopisano is situated in a strategic position, between two rivers: the Arno river, which connected Florence to Pisa and the river Auser, connecting it to lake Sextum and the Lucca Valley.

Photo Credits: salvatore.mallamace

Brunelleschi obtained the commission in 1435, after his wood and clay scale model was received with great enthusiasm by the governing committee and work started immediately, drastically changing the residential area of Vicopisano.

The Tower was built to be unassailable and well-stocked with provisions to withstand a siege.

Drawbridges, crenelated battlements and fortified keep

In addition to the drawbridges, which could be used to cut off parts of the Fortress during an enemy attack, there was a crenelated wall which connected the central tower to the keep, built directly on the river Arno, in order to unload men and supplies to the fortress.

Nowadays the landscape has changed, due to land reclamation work and the diversion of the river, but you can still see the strategic importance of the position.

> Maggiori info sulla Rocca del Brunelleschi

Photo Credits: Piero Frassi

…and the Palazzo Pretorio of Vicopisano

You can also visit the Palazzo Pretorio, a remarkable example of medieval architecture.

This was the Bishops’ residence and also part of the prisons were located here: it has been recently restored and is open to the public.

During your visit to Vicopisano you will be charmed by the steep narrow roads that wind up the hill, which afford views over the well-kept gardens and the slow pace of life which still continues in this ancient village of Monte Pisano.

Photo Credits: salvatore.mallamace

The imposing monument of Brunelleschi’s Fortress is open to the public:

  • every weekend from Capodanno Pisano (celebrated on the 25th of March according to the Pisa calendar) to November
  • from December to March, the second Sunday of the month (in connection with the Collector’s Market) with the following times. Saturday from 3.30pm to 7pm:Sunday from 10am to 12.30 pm and from 3.30pm to 7pm

Entrance costs:
– Brunelleschi’s Fortress € 5.00, reduced € 3.00
– Palazzo Pretorio € 3.00, reduced € 2.00
– Palazzo + Fortress € 7.00, reduced € 5.00

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Gianni Beconcini